Preparation for ID cards goes ahead without parliament

#1
Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Tuesday April 12, 2005

Guardian

Ministers are to press ahead with the mandatory fingerprinting of new passport applicants using royal prerogative powers to sidestep the loss of their identity card legislation last week.
The police are expected to be given the authority to carry out checks against this newly created national fingerprint database.

The home secretary Charles Clarke has authorised the passport service to acquire 70 new passport service offices across the country so that all adult applicants for new documents can be interviewed in person from next year. The service currently has seven offices.

The Home Office admits that the new network could also be used in future as identity card enrolment centres and the introduction of mandatory fingerprinting of passport applicants will form an important "building block" for the future ID card scheme.

Ministers have already made clear that the police will be allowed to conduct routine checks of fingerprints found at the scene of a crime against this new fingerprint database.

Civil liberty campaigners fear that, with 80% of British citizens holding a passport, the new fingerprint database will open up the potential of routine identity checks using fingerprint scanners, whether or not the individual is carrying a passport at the time.

It had been expected that the government's failure to get legislation paving the way for a national identity card scheme onto the statute book before the general election would at least have delayed the project.

But ministers have confirmed in correspondence that they are to press ahead despite the lack of parliamentary authority because passports are issued under the royal prerogative rather than legislation.

By the end of this year all new passports issued to first time adult applicants and those whose passports have been lost or stolen will include a chip containing a digital image of the normal passport photo. This will not involve applicants going in person to a passport office.

But from next year the 600,000 a year new adult applicants will no longer be able to apply by post and will have to present themselves for a personal interview at the new passport offices where they will also be fingerprinted.

Confirmation that this will be quickly extended to the 5 million people renewing their passports every year is contained in the HM passport service's corporate and business plan for 2005-2010.

It shows that the new national fingerprint database will build up at a rapid rate. A £415m funding boost to the passport service to introduce these new "biometric passports" has already been agreed with the Treasury.

The Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, Mark Oaten, said the government was trying to hide the true costs of its identity card scheme by turning the passport into a biometric identity card.

"The compulsory identity cards scheme is an expensive white elephant and a serious threat to civil liberties. It is an abuse of democracy for Labour to use the royal prerogative to put the nuts and bolts of the system in place without parliamentary approval," said Mr Oaten.

"There are no international obligations on the UK to put fingerprints in passports. The idea raises important privacy questions which must be properly debated, both in public and in Parliament."

Tony Bunyan of Statewatch, the civil liberties organisation, said the International Civil Avi ation Organisation had told everyone to include a digitised photograph on every passport.

But he said the recent agreement amongst the European Union Schengen states to include fingerprints as well did not include an obligation on the United Kingdom which retained its "opt-out" over such arrangements.

Caoilfhionn Gallagher, policy officer of Liberty, said: "If the government cannot convince parliament or the public of the need for a multi-purpose ID card it is wrong to create a national biometric database by stealth without proper debate."
How can these "royal prerogative powers" sidestep the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act ?

If the Identity Cards Bill had been passed, then as Primary Legislation, it could have triggered the exemptions "in accordance with law"

The police are expected to be given the authority to carry out checks against this newly created national fingerprint database.
How can this possibly be legal ?

What possible excuse is there to force people to be fingerprinted against their will, if they have committed no crime ?

Until an Identity Cards Bill is enacted forcing Compulsion, there must always be the option to get or renew a passport without having to submit any Biometric Identifiers to a Centralised Database.

The home secretary Charles Clarke has authorised the passport service to acquire 70 new passport service offices across the country so that all adult applicants for new documents can be interviewed in person from next year. The service currently has seven offices.
The Home Office admits that the new network could also be used in future as identity card enrolment centres and the introduction of mandatory fingerprinting of passport applicants will form an important "building block" for the future ID card scheme.
Ministers have already made clear that the police will be allowed to conduct routine checks of fingerprints found at the scene of a crime against this new fingerprint database.


Even if the case is made for fingerprints to be used as an anti-forgery device, there is no need for them to be held on a central database, they could be encoded on the Passport chip itself, Digitally Signed, and stored nowhere else .

Why is this option not even being discussed ?

Civil liberty campaigners fear that, with 80% of British citizens holding a passport, the new fingerprint database will open up the potential of routine identity checks using fingerprint scanners, whether or not the individual is carrying a passport at the time.
It had been expected that the government's failure to get legislation paving the way for a national identity card scheme onto the statute book before the general election would at least have delayed the project.

But ministers have confirmed in correspondence that they are to press ahead despite the lack of parliamentary authority because passports are issued under the royal prerogative rather than legislation.


What about the right to free travel under the European Union and United Nations conventions which the UK has signed up to ?

By the end of this year all new passports issued to first time adult applicants and those whose passports have been lost or stolen will include a chip containing a digital image of the normal passport photo. This will not involve applicants going in person to a passport office.
But from next year the 600,000 a year new adult applicants will no longer be able to apply by post and will have to present themselves for a personal interview at the new passport offices where they will also be fingerprinted.

Confirmation that this will be quickly extended to the 5 million people renewing their passports every year is contained in the HM passport service's corporate and business plan for 2005-2010.

It shows that the new national fingerprint database will build up at a rapid rate. A £415m funding boost to the passport service to introduce these new "biometric passports" has already been agreed with the Treasury."


Even the wretched Identity Cards Bill contained some attempts to protect individuals privacy along with the backsides of various petty officials and politicians.

How can any of these "protections" and "exemptions" apply to "Royal Prerogative" edicts ?

Is this story just a typical New Labour "leak" to test the temparature of the opposition, or are they seriously trying to sneak this in so undemocratically ?
:evil:
 
#2
Heh, looks like I managed to flee this increasingly totalitarian country just in time. If anyone else wishes to escape across the Atlantic, I've got a spare room :).
 
#3
cheesypoptart said:
Heh, looks like I managed to flee this increasingly totalitarian country just in time. If anyone else wishes to escape across the Atlantic, I've got a spare room :).
How much per calendar month then :cry:
 
#5
I've lived here since January. I applied to adjust status from here as a spouse, which means I can stay while they process my application. My work permit should be here by late May, my green card by the end of the year.

Basically, if you aren't a relative of a yank, you'll have to find a job - and right now they're not processing a lot of work-related visas properly (a bit like that Nigerian visa situation with us - i.e. it's their fault).
 
#6
4(T) said:
cheesypoptart, have you actually emigrated to US? If so, how did you get in?
I'm going to try putting a fake tan on, speaking spanish and entering via the wide open Tex/Mex border...then if anyone asks I can say "no speaky des English Gringo, viva pancho villa utd and stuff La alamo yankee peeg".
 
#7
armourer said:
I'm going to try putting a fake tan on, speaking spanish and entering via the wide open Tex/Mex border...then if anyone asks I can say "no speaky des English Gringo, viva pancho villa utd and stuff La alamo yankee peeg".
Why bother with the fake tan? You can still say it and it will get you exactly the same - jack shit!
 
#8
armourer said:
4(T) said:
cheesypoptart, have you actually emigrated to US? If so, how did you get in?
I'm going to try putting a fake tan on, speaking spanish and entering via the wide open Tex/Mex border...then if anyone asks I can say "no speaky des English Gringo, viva pancho villa utd and stuff La alamo yankee peeg".
Well, done. They'll think you're asking where the nearest car rental is. Then proceed to Los Angeles and buy yourself a fake green card. Enlist in the US Army, serve in Iraq and then fess up once you're eligible for citizenship after a year (preferably win a medal, too). A Mexican guy did just that and got away with it.

Remember, Service Guarantees Citizenship!
 

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